HB 2070 Will Allow Texas Pro Teams to Operate as Sportsbooks

Texas is the latest US state to consider the legalization of sports betting, after a bill seeking a constitutional amendment to authorize legal wagering was filed Tuesday in the legislature.

Texas Divided on Sports Betting

Contrary to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s predictions that no sports gambling bill would be filed this legislative session, Rep. Dan Huberty introduced HB 2070 which, if passed, would also allow professional sports teams to license themselves as sports betting operators.

During a radio interview two weeks ago, Lt. Gov. Patrick underscored the issue of sports betting would not be considered any time soon, as the legalization of wagering is opposed by organizations concerned with moral issues such as churches, and others worried they would lose their Texas gambling customers like the Oklahoma tribes.

The idea of having professional sports teams as sports betting providers is not widespread in the US, present in only three other states, Illinois, Washington DC and Virginia, and having only one franchise, Washington Football Team from the National Football League (NFL), being licensed so far.

HB 2070

The proposal put forth by Huberty’s HB 2070, which seeks to open up opportunities for all 13 professional sports franchises in Texas to partner with sports betting operators, also considered the leagues, permitting them to enter into commercial agreements with sports wagering operators for a share of the wager or revenue amounts stemming from the events the league governs.

Operators at all 3 horse racetracks in Texas, Sam Houston Race Park, Retama Park and Lone Star Park, as well as all greyhound racetracks would also be allowed to introduce sports wagering under the terms of the bill.

There are no second skin partnership provisions in the proposed measure, explicitly allowing only one brand per operator, but HB 2070 opens a possibility for interactive sports betting permits in which the retail permit holder brand and the sports wagering brand may be different.

HB 2070 would need approval from two-thirds of House representatives and Senate members, as well as the signature of Lt. Gov. Patrick. The House Joint Resolution, HJR 97, would place a resolution for a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November, and if Texas residents vote for it, the bill would legalize sports betting from January 1, 2022.

The bill proposed by Rep. Dan Huberty is the third seeking legalization for sports wagering in Texas since the beginning of 2021, following HB 477 filed by Democratic Rep. Joe Deshotel for the legalization of Class III gaming, including sports betting, and Democratic Rep. Harold Dutton’s HB 1121 which seeks to make Texas, much like Tennessee, a digital-only sports wagering jurisdiction.

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